A definitive guide on the proper care and storage of vinyl records
Hey man, you bought a buncha cool records. Love it. Owning cool records is one of the best things you can do for your psyche. Think about it. It’s a fun physical object that expresses your taste in a tangible way. You’re directly supporting the pocketbooks of your favorite musicians. And you get to show your friends how loud your speakers can go. And we know, they can go very loud. We also love that.
But there’s a very, very important rule to owning vinyl: Do not be a dumbass.
What do we mean? We mean that you need to take care of your shit. No, we’re not talking about nifty storage ideas (we already gave you the 12 best ways to store vinyl records). We’re talking about how you’re supposed to handle these fun little black discs. Vet collectors know that dropping a grand on an early Pink Floyd pressing is only the beginning of ownership. Without proper care, that LP will only decrease in value and, more importantly, end up sounding like a chainsaw lit on fire (this is not a good sound). Plus, don’t you want to give these things to your kids and grandkids someday? They need to know that grandma and grandpa were cool.
This, friends, is how to properly store vinyl records.
What’s the best way to store vinyl records?
There are many different methods for storage. It’s about what works for you and your listening station. Shelves? Credenza? Custom? Who knows! You can really have a lot of fun with this. if you need some inspiration, here’s a good list we’ve put together of the best ways to store vinyl records.
OK, well, what are the basics to storing vinyl records?
Everything matters. That’s a broad statement, but a true one.
Before you touch your albums, make sure your hands are clean and you’re prepared to handle something fragile. Vinyl records aren’t going to shatter and you don’t need to wear medical gloves like a psychopath, but these things do require a much more tender approach than handling CDs or cassettes. Remember that the sound is produced from grooves on the discs, and that any damage done to those grooves will change the way the record itself sounds.
And I’m not going to say that I’ve learned this from experience, but if you’re partying with some pals and have had a few drinks (and other things) while blasting your favorite records, make sure the most sober person in the room is flipping the records. (And maybe that’s not the time to show off your original pressing of London Calling.)
In short, be careful!
How to store records on a shelf?
You should store your records on shelves vertically. Whether you want to sort these bad boys in alphabetical order or by genre or by color or whatever, vinyl records need to be stored in an upright position.
If you store your records flat, there is a strong possibility the records will warp. This is an obvious one, but you do not want your records to warp. It is a very bad thing if your records warp.
So can you store vinyl records flat?
No. Again, do not do this. They will warp and sound like shit.
Are you sure I can’t store my vinyl records flat? It looks so much better on my shelf if I store my vinyl records plat.
Yes, I’m sure. Please, for the love of God, don’t do this! I know it is tempting. But don’t. Store your records vertically.
How do you preserve vinyl records?
Don’t be a dumbass and take care of your stuff (this is a recurring theme of this article). This means storing your collection in a temperate place — not too hot or too cold — and making sure that avoids direct sunlight. (This goes for UV lights used to grow plants, too.) Store your records in sleeves, and handle them carefully.
How do you handle vinyl records?
Handle your records with care when you play them. This means gently pulling them out of the sleeves and cleaning them before placing them on the turntable. You might also consider wearing microfiber handling gloves to keep the dirt and oils from your hands from touching the vinyl.
How do you clean vinyl records?
Get yourself a vinyl record cleaning spray and a microcloth. Each time you take a record out of its sleeve, give a light spritz and gentle rub in a clockwise direction. Do not press too hard while cleaning because you may damage the record itself. Let the microcloth do the work for you. Regularly cleaning records as you play them will help them maintain their quality in the long run.
OK, I get that, but is there something more specific I can read on how to clean vinyl records?
Yes, indeed. Here’s a great guide we wrote for you.
What is the best way to preserve vinyl records?
Follow the K.I.S.S. rule, and follow this guide.
How do you store vinyl records without sleeves?
You don’t do this. C’mon, man. Would you go outside in a blizzard without a jacket? Would you ride a motorcycle without a helmet? Would you play a football game without pads? Grow up and buy yourself some sleeves. Your future will thank you.
How do you store records in sleeves?
This is trickier than it seems. There are two types of sleeves, inner and outer.
Got it, so what’s up with inner sleeves?
The mass produced inner sleeves for records tend to deteriorate pretty quickly — especially those flimsy white ones. You need to get rid of that crap and spend a few bucks on new ones. Seriously. It may seem small but for the price of a cheeseburger at a trendy restaurant, you can get a bunch of sleeves that will add years onto the lives of your records in your collection.
OK, so that’s inner sleeves. But what’s the deal with outer sleeves?
You should store your records in plastic outer sleeves. Depending on where you buy your music, it may come with one, but this is not the industry standard. Just do yourself a favor and get some. (Remember that don’t be a dumbass thing.)
Personally, we recommend Big Fudge.
How do outer sleeves protect vinyl records?
When you purchase a record, you’re purchasing a piece of artwork. Not just the music itself, but the album art and everything that’s gone into the package. Your outer sleeves will protect this hard work from the elements. It will also keep them from devaluing, because any sort of damage to the outer sleeve is almost just as bad as damage to the record itself.
Believe it or not, your records can get fucked up while sitting on a shelf, whether it’s a corner crunching or just general wear and tear. (Do me a favor and don’t ask about the cat I lived with in college and what he did to my collection and how badly I wish I had my records stored in outer plastic sleeves. Please, do not ask me.)
What is the ideal temperature for storing vinyl records?
Cool, but not cold. Some people call it jacket weather. Other people call it 65 degrees.
Does humidity affect vinyl records?
Yes. Keep vinyl records in a controlled climate. (Pro tip: If you’re out shopping for records on a humid summer day, don’t leave them in your car.) Not only will humidity damage the vinyl records themselves, but the album covers and artwork will also suffer. We already told you why all of this is bad.
Finally, can I store my vinyl records flat?